The “Cut and Run” Smear

A few days ago, congress had a fierce debate on the idea of troop withdrawals. In the face of two Democratic proposals for setting a date on withdrawal from Iraq, Republican congressmen repeatedly referred to those proposals as “cut and run.” This is very much consistent with the strategy Karl Rove has suggested for the Republican Party during the upcoming elections. The implication of the “cut and run” labeling pretty clearly seems to be that the Democrats are cowards, lacking the fortitude to see the conflict through to its conclusion. They don’t have the spine for governing, Rove’s plan suggests. Leadership takes resolve, and the Democrats haven’t got it.

The premise of this position is one I find rather distasteful. It turns foreign policy into nothing more than simian chest-beating. We can’t let America look weak. They’ll think we’re not manly enough. We gotta stick it out until we’ve shown those insurgents who’s boss.

This isn’t some John Wayne western. This isn’t Jr. High. This is the real world. We and our leaders should have outgrown such a juvenile attitude. That sort of macho pride has no place in our foreign policy or our politics. No good can come from it. Succumbing to it in the past led to our escalation and ultimate defeat in the Vietnam War. At root, it is simply another manifestation of pride.

A foreign policy based on integrity and moral principles isn’t based on how our nation “looks” to other nations. It isn’t concerned with “face.” It is concerned exclusively with the best interests of the American people and the world with which we interact. If serving those interests means ending a war without clearly and decisively “winning” or achieving our objectives, we should do it—regardless of what other nations or our enemies might think.

A case can be made that, regardless of how immoral the instigation of the conquest of Iraq, continued military presence can help stabilize the region and facilitate the ultimate transfer of power to the Iraqi people. The Republicans should convince us of that case, if they can. But if they keep up their testosterone driven chest-beating, making the occupation an issue of backbone and cajones and never backing down from a fight, and they merely show us how disingenuous they are when they when talking about the Prince of Peace.

4 Responses to “The “Cut and Run” Smear”

  1. Brian Says:

    I see no problem with the term “cut and run”. That is exactly what they are proposing. Leave the new Iraqi government high and dry. Leave because the calander says so, not because the job is done. If liberals can label the war a “quagmire”, which it is not, the democrate plans can be called what they are. I can see why the liberals would want to cut and run. It worked so well in Vietnam, Somalia and Lebanon in the past.

    You may call it “macho pride”. In order to call it that you must ignore all the good that is happening in Iraq. If you don’t believe there is good happening in Iraq you should read some blogs of the soldiers over there. Here is a good one if you need a starting point.

    The case for staying in Iraq until the job is done should be obvious. I have not heard the entire debate but what I have read and heard did not mention chest beating or cajones. John McCain said it perfectly. “Drawdowns must be based on conditions in country, not an arbitrary deadline rooted in our domestic politics.” Arbitrary dates may work with some projects but definitely not this one.

    As for being immoral, that still remains to be seen. I know you will laugh at that but it is true.

  2. Jennifer Says:

    Derek, thanks for your post to the yahoo group. We miss you there and it was nice to hear from you again. I skimmed through the blog and found it well-written and informative. I hear you!

  3. Derek Staffanson Says:


    As I mentioned in my post and have noted before, a case can indeed be made that the occupation is necessary at this point. Some people, like McCain, are making such a case.

    But instead of having the integrity to make such a case, Bush, Cheney, Rove, and many of the congressional Republicans would rather use the spurious charge of cowardice. Making it an issue of bravery or cowardice is indeed NOTHING BUT macho pride.

    The case can also be made that our presence is causing more problems than it is solving–much like Vietnam. To leave under those circumstances is not a matter of cowardice or of “cutting and running.” Its called having the honor to leave a place in which you had no business being.

    After all, sticking it out in Vietnam for a decade so that we wouldn’t be seen as “cutting and running” sure worked well, didn’t it? Only a few billion dollars spent. The death toll? 60,000 U.S. soldiers , a few hundred-thousand Vietnamese soldiers, and a COUPLE MILLION civilians. Oh, and we lost. Good thing we didn’t “cut and run” earlier.

    Certainly good things are happening in Iraq. Some of it is a result of the troops. Whether it outweighs the damage and harm happening in Iraq–some of it also a result of the troops–“remains to be seen.”

  4. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Hi, Jennifer! I’d hoped to hear from you. Life going well?

    I’m glad you like the blog. Thanks for the thoughts!

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